Walk in Nature

If you’re looking for things to do with kids — and want to combine fitness and fun into your upcoming family activities in Central Pennsylvania — you’re in luck. The whole family can participate in each of the family exercise activities we’ve included below.

For your next family activity, get inspired by this list of fun things to do near Carlisle, Mechanicsburg and Harrisburg, and the surrounding area.

Vertical Trek Zipline at Ski Roundtop

If you’re a native of Central Pennsylvania, you’ve heard of Ski Roundtop.

Conveniently located in Lewisberry, Pa., Ski Roundtop is well-known for their ski slopes and their gorgeous lodge — which is available for events such as wedding receptions and dances. But did you know that Ski Roundtop also offers a zipline experience?

Whether you are looking for family workout ideas, or just fun attractions in Central Pennsylvania, the ziplines at Ski Roundtop are an excellent choice. The Vertical Trek is a fully guided and family-friendly hike-and-zipline experience. Join a group as they set out on a guided hike and tour down the slopes.

central pa zipline

Your journey begins with a chairlift ride to the top of the slopes. From there, you’ll follow your tour guide down the gorgeous slopes, taking in the natural beauty and vista offered by the mountainside scenery. Along the way, you’ll enjoy 10 different ziplines that are up to 400 feet long and 40 feet high.

For this activity, you’ll need to make sure that all members of your family or group are over 10 years old and weigh at least 70 pounds, for safety reasons. If your family loves the outdoors and the thrill of adventure, this is one event you won’t want to miss.

Because of the nature of this activity, the Vertical Trek Zipline is only available during the spring, summer and fall. However, there’s still plenty to do at Ski Roundtop in the winter. Enjoy some winter fun by planning a second visit to enjoy the ski slopes with the whole family.

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Carlisle Borough Bicycle and Pedestrian Trail Network

If you’re looking for things to do near Carlisle, Pa., we recommend visiting the Carlisle Borough Bicycle and Pedestrian Trail Network. This an excellent opportunity for sightseeing and it’s a fun family fitness activity that everyone can enjoy together.

This is a 13.8-mile long trail that you can bike or walk. If you’re accommodating younger children, choose this activity as your ongoing summer adventure. If you hike or bike a mile or so at a time, you can spread the fun out over multiple trips instead of tackling the whole trail in one day. Every time you go, you can explore and enjoy new sights, all while keeping the experience entertaining and manageable for all age groups. Some of the sections are more rural and wooded, while others take you through town, providing a wide range of views and settings to enjoy.

Whether it’s high summer, chilly autumn, drizzly spring or even a brisk winter day, there are plenty of ways to enjoy the trail. The advantage of this trail is it can be just as long or short as you want it to be.

Army Heritage Trail and Education Center

If you live in or near the Carlisle neighborhood, or if you’re coming from farther away and need to plan a day-trip, this is another great activity for an educational afternoon out with the family.

The Army Heritage Trail and Education Center is a small, indoor museum that lets you browse impressive numbers of historical and military artifacts. Here, you’ll find exhibits on different wars, soldiers’ experiences and significant moments in history. The exhibits change over time, so even if you’ve visited in the past, the materials and information on display are likely to be different.

There is also a record archive and library for those who have an interest in military history and are interested in browsing more specific details, records and information. The different exhibits and displays available offer a lens into history for even the youngest visitors, while older children and adults will walk away having learned more context and history about the U.S. Army, its many soldiers and our nation’s history.

army heritage center

Once you’ve finished with the indoor portion of the museum, explore the Army Heritage Trail. This is the outdoor portion of the museum. The trail is about a mile long and features 14 different full-size exhibits, all dedicated to various subjects such as the French and Indian War, the Civil War and WWII.

The trail also provides a great place to get in a little exercise with the family. Feel free to run, walk or bike the length of this trail as you explore the different exhibits and enjoy the benefits of exercise and fresh air. The Army Heritage Trail is also dog-friendly, so your four-legged family members can join in on the fun.

Finish off your trip with a visit to the museum store and a stop by Café Cumberland. The entire Education Center complex is on Soldiers Drive in Carlisle. For full hours of operation, visit their website.

Ghoulish Gallop

No list of Central Pennsylvania activities would be complete without mentioning the annual Ghoulish Gallop. Every Halloween season, this family-friendly event takes place in Carlisle, Pa., giving everyone from kids to parents and grandparents the opportunity to get out, exercise and have a good time during the fall season.

The Ghoulish Gallop is a hybrid event with both walking and running options, meaning that no matter what your fitness level or skill set, you can enjoy this event. There is both a single mile walking event, as well as a 5K race for those interested in a slightly more strenuous activity and a competitive challenge. Both events usually take place on the same day, which is usually a Saturday around Halloween, although the date varies from year to year.

ghoulish gallop image of road

The walking course is short, so it’s an excellent opportunity for the whole family to participate together. From the oldest to the youngest, everyone has a high likelihood of being able to complete this course, especially thanks to the many stops along the way. In keeping with the theme of Halloween, the entire course is decorated with ghouls, zombies and other decorations designed to make the course look appropriately spooky. At designated points along the trail, you’ll stop and consume snacks in a zombie-like manner, trying to splatter your complimentary white T-shirt with as many food stains as possible. At the end of the event, prizes are presented for the best T-shirt splatters.

If some family members are interested in competitive athletic events and challenging themselves — or more grueling exercise — the 5K race is a recent addition to the Ghoulish Gallop. Parents and children 10 and up can enjoy the run. Runners are organized into age bracket categories, and there is also a category for runners with strollers. If you’re not running, parents and younger children can cheer on family members who are or skip the 5K altogether and focus on the mile-long walk in the afternoon.

The race starts early in the morning, and the walking event takes place in the afternoon. For both the walking and the running events, pre-registering guarantees you a spot as well as a T-shirt.

Indian Echo Caverns

You can’t miss Indian Echo Caverns. This spectacular natural cave system is open to the public, under the supervision of tour guides, allowing you to explore these winding caverns that have attracted people for many generations.

As you explore the winding tunnels and rooms deep underground, you’ll encounter hidden lakes, stunning stalagmites and stalactites and other rock formations. These spectacular sights were carved out of the ancient limestone in this region by constant passing of time and water, slowly forming the awe-inspiring sights you’ll find there today.

Tours through the caverns last about 45 minutes, the perfect length so you can bring small children with you, and they won’t tire before the tour is over.

echo caverns pa

Once you’ve finished touring the caves themselves, there’s more to see and do. Your experience wouldn’t be complete without a visit through the gift shop and a tour of the other various amenities and attractions offered on site. There’s a petting zoo, a playground and an old-fashioned replica mill that lets kids pretend to prospect for gemstones and fossils.

With all these Central Pennsylvania attractions, you and the whole family will get a lot of exercise in during the day, and you’ll have a blast while doing it. The caverns are located just three miles from Hershey, and they’re open seven days a week. Their summer hours are from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. If your visit is after Labor Day, plan around their shorter winter hours, which run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Get Air Trampoline Park

If you’re looking for fun things to do with kids in Central Pennsylvania, one of the first places to visit near Harrisburg should be the trampoline park at Get Air.

When your family visits Get Air Trampoline Park, you’ll enjoy vast floors of trampolines, allowing you to jump uninterrupted for as long as your session lasts while still enjoying the company of your party and the lively atmosphere. Jumping isn’t the only way to have fun and get exercise here, either. Get Air also boasts many other fun activities that incorporate trampolines. There’s so much to do here that you might wish you had more time to do it all. Enjoy the foam pits, basketball, slack lines, fidget ladders and other exciting obstacles.

get air trampoline

If your party contains guests of all ages, you might worry about the little ones being overwhelmed by jumping with the adults and bigger kids. Get Air plans for this by having a separate space for just the young kids so they can be safe and jump without the risk of knocking into the bigger jumpers.

This is a great indoor activity that you can enjoy year-round. It’s always a good time to burn off some extra energy, get some exercise and have fun on a trampoline.

Get Air is located on Union Deposit Road in Harrisburg and offers open jump time from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. most weekdays. Browse their full hours and schedule to book your party or family event.

About UPMC

Headquartered in Pittsburgh, UPMC is a world-renowned health care provider and insurer. We operate 40 hospitals and 700 doctors’ offices and outpatient centers, with locations in central and western Pennsylvania, Maryland, New York, and internationally. We employ 4,900 physicians, and we are leaders in clinical care, groundbreaking research, and treatment breakthroughs. U.S. News & World Report consistently ranks UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside as one of the nation’s best hospitals in many specialties and ranks UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh on its Honor Roll of America’s Best Children’s Hospitals.